Early this spring, nine students in Suffolk’s Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)┬áProgram went to Chicago for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Congress on Healthcare Leadership. They were accompanied by Professor Richard Gregg, director of Suffolk’s Programs in Healthcare Administration and a member of the Board of Directors of the ACHE of Massachusetts.

With more than 4,000 ACHE members in attendance, Congress is an opportunity for MHA students like Shawn Brown to connect with leaders in the field.

“I had such an amazing time at Congress. It was great meeting executives and networking with people in the field. Everyone had varied backgrounds, but we all had a common ground—a shared passion for healthcare," said Shawn, who volunteered as a program assistant and is also a member of the ACHE’s Early Careerist Network.

Natascha Zorrilla agreed. “It’s an amazing and unique opportunity to network with healthcare professionals and other healthcare administration students from around the country,” said Natascha, who is the president of Suffolk’s Future Healthcare Leaders Association.

Massachusetts attendees kicked off the week with a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. This was a chance for students to interact with local healthcare leaders and meet Richard Corder, the ACHE Regent for Massachusetts. “The cruise was definitely a highlight of the trip. The Chicago skyline was stunning, and I even met someone from a nearby VA hospital who told me about a phenomenal internship opportunity this summer,” Shawn said.

One of his favorite seminars was led by experienced healthcare executives and featured advice on how to navigate the first 10 years of your career. “The professionals shared their stories—including mistakes they made along the way—so that we could learn from their experiences,” Shawn said.

In addition to the educational seminars, Shawn also participated in a resume workshop, where he received personalized feedback and insight into what employers are looking for. As a young healthcare administrator, his biggest takeaway was to be open to relocating for career opportunities.

Shawn plans to graduate from Suffolk in May 2017, and he expects his MHA degree to lead to career opportunities in the near future. “I hope to take what I’ve learned at Suffolk and at Congress and apply it to a leadership role within a community health organization.”

Natascha, who will work as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital beginning this summer, hopes her experience and MHA degree will lead to a related position with more responsibilities after graduation.